And then she pecked my foot

This is Wilma. She’s one of the chicks, who are now 8 weeks old.

She’s a silver laced Wyndotte and after much consideration, I’ve decided to name her and her twin Wilma and Betty. Not sure why other than that it was the first pair of women that jumped into my head when she suddenly became friendly last week. Thanks to Destabee and Twinville for the suggestion

I can’t tell them apart, so for all I know they’re both friendly, but no matter, whichever is being friendly at any given moment is Wilma and the other is Betty.

When I was sitting on the ground yesterday she climbed all over me testing each shiny spot or object to see if it was a treat. I guess my recent work trying to socialize them is paying off, or maybe they just know I’ll protect them from Steve?

Say Hello to Steve

This is our new rooster, Steve. I picked him up from my friend Denise when I was at the Edible Plant Sale yesterday. She’s long on roosters, and I decided that you can’t have a farm without a big pretty rooster.

He crowed all the way home in the car yesterday, and serenaded us periodically all day today. Luckily the hen shack and yard are far enough from the house that he adds ambiance without being annoying.

Steve is making himself right at home – cover any small children’s eyes – by making up for lost time and getting it on with the girls. He’s about a year old and Denise had him separated from the hens with another rooster. So far I’d say that his social and organizational skills are lacking, but he definitely has the sex part figured out.

The three biggest girls are pretty accepting of him and are basically acting as his harem – in particular Lucy and Maisie. Agnes isn’t a big fan, but then she’s a lot smaller than he is. She tends to ignore him and do what she wants until he makes a move, then she darts under the shed. The 10 chicks are basically operating as their own separate flock right now, but then that’s more because they’re still young than any other reason.

We’ve still got the banty rooster, but I’m hoping that Oscar and Steve can learn to co-exist. If not, Steve will be looking for another home sooner than later (sorry Denise!). Steve would have to go, mostly because Oscar is turning out to be really sweet and likeable, and Steve tends to give me the evil eye and a very wide berth so far.

Spring finally arrives?

While the weather makes me think otherwise, it seems that spring has finally arrived. At the U District farmers market this morning there were signs of it everywhere. From the bigger crowds bearing canvas bags, to the flower vendors flush with tulips, to the raabs and arugula, to the very first spears of asparagus.

Even though it was 50 degrees and raining, it still felt like spring. I thoroughly enjoyed wandering through and browsing my options and thinking of all the things we can start cooking as spring progresses.

I left the market laden down with asparagus, french breakfast radishes, green onions, leeks, green kale raab, celery (!), cheddar cheese and red baby potatoes. Enough spring treats to keep us happy for a week or more.

Then I headed over to the Seattle Tilth Edible Plant Sale and splurged on some plant starts. I picked up some horseradish, fennel, unusual peppers, broccoli to replace mine that got weirdly leggy, a second artichoke variety and bay laurel.

It must be spring, right?

2008 One Local Summer

Nicole is hosting the 2008 One Local Summer challenge over at Farm to Philly. The challenge will run from June 1 to August 31 this year.

Essentially you prepare one meal a week using all local ingredients (100 mile radius or your definition) and write about it on your blog. Weekly recaps for each region (West, Southwest, Midwest, etc) go up each Monday.

I’ll be covering the weekly recaps for the Western region and would love to see any and all of the Dark Days Challenge participants this summer too! To join in, head on over and sign up before May 25.

Conquering Aliens

Blackberries are rampant in Washington state and we pretty much consider them an invasive weed. There is one native variety, the trailing blackberry, but all of the evergreen versions are invasive from either Europe or Asia. We’ve got some trailing out of the woods on our back property line that I think are native and I’m looking forward to picking them later this summer for pies and jam.

If you’re not careful they can take over your lot, your yard or even swallow an old barn.

Want Beef?

This is for my Washington readers only – sorry to everyone else.

Our freezer is almost tragically empty as we roll up to spring. The quarter cow that we took delivery of last June is down to the last few roasts and packages of ground beef. To bring a smile back to my face (and stomach) I’m making arrangements to get another quarter in late June / early July through a farm here in Arlington.

It’s significantly cheaper if we take a half or whole steer instead, but we can’t come close to eating that much meat! So we’re looking for at least one other person to split a half with us, or three to split a whole.

A quarter is approximately 180 pounds and the price is $3.60 per pound if we order a half steer, $3.20 per pound if we order a whole. The price is hanging weight and includes custom cut and wrap through Del Fox Meats.

We have a couple of friends considering participating, but if you’re here in Washington and you’re interested in a quarter, drop me a line this week. I’m sending in my deposit on Tuesday and would need to get your commitment and money before I mail that check.